Eyes on the Prize

by Juan Williams
Start Free Trial

How can I understand and write a summary on the prologue by Vincent Harding from the book Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader?

Vincent Harding begins his essay "Awakenings" by talking about the 1955 Civil Rights Movement, the year that things really began to change. He claims that this change began with Emmett Till's murder in August, 1955 and continued throughout the year with major Supreme Court decisions and events like Martin Luther King's involvement in a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. Harding also says that he is writing for those who are trying to learn about the Civil Rights Movement in general or for those who are studying Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954-1965.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The main idea of Vincent Harding's prologue for Eyes on the PrizeCivil Rights Reader is that a new era was beginning in the Civil Rights Movement. He begins his essay "Awakenings" by referring to the murder of Emmett Till, a "Chicago-based teenager" (page 35) in Mississippi, and he...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The main idea of Vincent Harding's prologue for Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader is that a new era was beginning in the Civil Rights Movement. He begins his essay "Awakenings" by referring to the murder of Emmett Till, a "Chicago-based teenager" (page 35) in Mississippi, and he says that while in the past, such injustices were met with the response "another man done gone" (page 35), this time, things were different. In other words, the African-American community was going to take a new approach towards gaining equality and dealing with injustice. 

Harding claims that although the struggle for civil rights for African-Americans had been going on for a very long time, "it seemed clear that 1955 was different" (page 36). Part of what made this year different was the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which declared that separate but equal schools (meaning whites and African-Americans had segregated schools) were inherently unequal. In addition, he points to the bus boycott led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks at the end of 1955 (and into 1956) in Montgomery, Alabama. Of this boycott, Harding says, "if anyone had any doubts that 1955 was a new time, they needed only to pay close attention to what was developing in Montgomery, Alabama" (page 37). Dr. King was leading African-Americans in that city on a peaceful boycott of buses to protest their treatment. Harding writes that while African-Americans had long been denied their rights, "a unique, mass-based new beginning" was happening in the mid-1950s, and the documents and issues in this book relate to that new beginning for the Civil Rights movement. 

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team